Catherine O’Leary Jacket Workshop Report

Catherine O’Leary Sculptural Felted Jacket Workshop Nov 2018


Catherine O’Leary is a textile artist from Melbourne. She has been working with felt since 1990’s. On the first evening Catherine presented a slide show to FeltWEST of her past and present textile work. She works mainly in 3-D, often covering entire surfaces (like desks and telephones) with felt or felting Barbie doll figures into interlaced cube shapes.  She also works extensively with stitching clothing from the Korean Bojagi technique in Silk Organza. The transparent fabric is highlighted with incredible seams. The Bojagi is a traditional Korean wrapping cloth. Catherine also has

been a finalist in the New Zealand Wearable Art Awards three times.

Our Sculptural Felted Jacket workshop was mainly a project about learning how to use needle-felted prefelts, making a length of fabric, then cutting and sewing a jacket.  To embellish our prefelts, we not only brought pieces of fabrics from our ‘stash’ but spent the morning creating

individual designs on fine silk fabric through the application

of drawing, stencilling, mono printing and block printing. These fabrics where useful while creating our designs on top of the needle felted prefelts.

When our design work was finished, we

wet it down, covered it in plastic and rolled it in bubble wrap. Now began the arduous task of rolling! It took virtually one whole day to roll the pieces. The prefelt behaves very differently to laid-out wool. It is much more spongy and stretchy.  It also takes a long time to grab the fabrics.  However, on the upside you don’t have to spend anytime laying-out wool. Once your piece was finished with the rolling stage it was put out to dry.  You could then begin cutting out your jacket pattern pieces.  Much fun had in designing what pattern piece would go where. Nothing was wasted. Even little scraps became pockets, trim, or collars. A few ladies nearly finished completely but many had more cutting, fitting and stitching to go. Most were well on their way

to being able to take home a gorgeous new Sculptural Felted Jacket thanks to Catherine!

by Nancy Ballesteros